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Udalguri Rape and Murder case – Assamese Media violating Law

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The recent report of rape and murder in the Udalguri district of Assam has covered the headlines of the news media widely. Most of the news media have carried the horrific news of a 50 years old lady, who was brutally killed after rape in their frontline stories. Every possible aspect related to that case has been explained there. But, unfortunately, the media itself have made a critical error in doing so.

While publishing the news, most of the newspapers and news channels have disclosed the identity of the victim of that rape and murder case which is totally unethical. As per Section 228(A) of the Indian Penal Code(IPC), disclosing the identity of the victim of a rape case is an offense. The activity of disclosing the identity or anything that can point towards the victim’s family or relatives is considered as a crime until the victim’s family members disclose it themselves. But, very strangely, the Guwahati based media have presented this news in that very illogical manner. Considering the ethics of journalism, they have definitely gone a bit too far in this case.

It is to be cited that when the Nirbhaya case took place in Delhi, the victim’s name and identity were not published publicly by the media until the victim’s father discloses it. The media must be so cautious that the news does not break the privacy of the victim or the victim’s family. But, on the contrary, the Guwahati based media have published the whole identity along with full photographs.

In this regard, noted journalist Nava Thakuria speaks that, in many occasions, the Guwahati based newspapers and news channels use to publish the name of the victim’s identity with the complete photograph, name, and address of the victim including women and children, which is totally unethical and also illogical. Even the Hon’ble Supreme Court in December 2018 barred the media to publish or air the names or any material which may even remotely reveal the identity of victims of sexual crimes. Such verdict was pronounced so that it does not hurt the sentiment of any community, any particular gender, any particular individual. But the media have not shown the least response towards this aspect.

Thakuria also added that, even in the time of Corona, most of the media are publicly publishing the name and address of the Covid-19 positive persons, which is also unethical according to the law. In the national media, nowhere one can see the names of the Covid-19 patients except the Guwahati based media. And the irony is that at least 50 media employees have tested Covid-19 positive in Guwahati in the last few days. But not a single news channel has mentioned their names so far. Also, they have not made a news item that around 50 media workers are positive. Whereas on the same news channel to date, they are publishing the others’ names who are positive. That is unethical, illogical, and very discriminatory.

The Police department and the Health department itself announce their Covid-19 positive number. But, here, the media are shy enough to expose their name, whether it could have been pride that journalists work in a pandemic period so they got infected on the duty line. Somehow the newspapers and the news channels aborted the news. The way that media has played a discriminatory role because they use other’s names as positive and they avoid their own people being done positively for novel coronavirus.

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Udalguri Rape and Murder case – Assamese Media violating Law

By: Sangeeta Sarmah Read time: 10 min